The regular readers/subscribers to this blog of mine may have noticed recently that I have posted a hyperlink at the bottom, which deserves a bit of explanation. The reality is that it is Jesus Christ who is building his church, and he builds it in each different cultural setting in forms and internal disciplines that reflect the hugely diverse/differing cultures geographically, generationally, and ethnically. One of the realities frequently overlooked is (as I have mentioned previously) that each new emerging generation also reflects a culture of its own, being formed by differing dynamics.

So here we are in the year 2016 and in a world where over 50% of the population are under twenty-five years of age. It is also a world of younger adults significantly formed by the omnipresence of the internet—a phenomenon inconceivable only a few years ago. This emerging generation’s grandparents were the Boomer generation, at the time the largest generational culture. They were, in the 1950s and ‘60s, a restless generation who protested, created colorful events such as the Woodstock festival, introduced a drug culture, such phenomena as the free speech movement, and the free sex movement, etc. … but then they settled down and became a very conservative generation as they missed the stability of their parents’ generation (I’m obviously and admittedly generalizing here). In many ways they represent a schizophrenic generation: one foot in their parents’ stable generation and one foot in the digital culture they were in process of inventing, … possessive and self-assured.

But now the Boomers are retiring … and leaving a huge question mark in the workplace and the culture. Their offspring were Generation X who were trying to figure it all out and were as a whole pretty pessimistic. They were a generation formed by all kinds of new cultural realities, such as having  two working parents, leaving them as latchkey kids. The Xers produced, then, the Millennial Generation, who have been characterized as a: “Sure, things are screwed up, but we can fix it!” optimistic generation, which was a huge generation, but innovators who produced many of the digital wizards (Gates, Jobs, etc.). They, in turn, produced the now emerging generation variously dubbed:  Generation Y, or Generation iY (internet generation), or Generation Z. This is the largest generation ever, and they are in process of creating cultural realities that are new and totally different from the slow-to-let-go Boomer Generation, which is now moving off into retirement.

So here I am,  Bob Henderson, who has lived through all of these, and cut his teeth with inquisitive university students of the Boomer generation, and has continued to be a student of the emerging cultures since then, and to realize how indifferent the church has seemed to be to these realities, as it has clung to patterns and disciplines of the past that don’t communicate to the present. My several books over recent decades are a record of my own evolution in understanding the church, and critiquing its lack of self-understanding as to its message and mission in these emerging cultures.

What is inescapably apparent now is that many of this iY Generation have no significant contact with anything known as: the ‘church. This became more and more obvious in many conversations with bright and thoughtful young adults in coffee shops and pubs—many of whom had no concept of what it was that I had spent my life doing, and were fascinated that there was any such animal as a teaching-pastor, or any such entity as the church. The older generations find this unbelievable, but I was fascinated by it and began to take notes. Out of this came my attempt to somehow communicate to my iY Generation friends what it is all about. My offering to them is the book: What On Earth Is the Church? An Inquirer’s Guide. Thus the hyperlink below. Pass the word along. To be continued …


About rthenderson

Sixty years a pastor-teacher within the Presbyterian Church. Author of several books, the latest of which are a trilogy on missional ecclesiology: ENCHANTED COMMUNITY: JOURNEY INTO THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH, then, REFOUNDING THE CHURCH FROM THE UNDERSIDE, then THE CHURCH AND THE RELENTLESS DARKNESS. Previous to this trilogy was A DOOR OF HOPE: SPIRITUAL CONFLICT IN PASTORAL MINISTRY, and SUBVERSIVE JESUS, RADICAL FAITH. I am a native of West Palm Beach, Florida, a graduate of Davidson College, then of Columbia and Westminster Theological Seminaries.
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